Flawed climate science paper “exposed potential weaknesses” in the peer review process

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How did a deeply flawed paper, which contradicts mainstream science on climate change, pass peer review?

That is what three editorial board members tried to figure out after the journal, Global and Planetary Change, faced heavy criticism for publishing the controversial paper last year. The board members published their findings earlier this month in a commentary.

Martin Grosjean, the corresponding author on the editorial, told Retraction Watch that the editors and publisher, Elsevier, share the same interest: Continue reading Flawed climate science paper “exposed potential weaknesses” in the peer review process

McGill dept chair says she was blindsided by coauthor’s plagiarism

When Parisa Ariya was invited to write a review for a special issue of the journal Atmosphere, she asked one of her former doctoral students to take the lead. But she soon regretted that decision after discovering Lin (Emma) Si had plagiarized and duplicated significant portions of the review.

Ariya, chair of the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences at McGill University in Montreal, told Retraction Watch that she believes it’s important to foster the careers of young women in science and was excited for her former student, Si, to take on the challenge of writing her first review. (Si was cc’d on our email communications with Ariya, but did not respond to our individual request for comment.)
Continue reading McGill dept chair says she was blindsided by coauthor’s plagiarism

Caught Our Notice: Climate change leads to more…neurosurgery for polar bears?

Title: Internet Blogs, Polar Bears, and Climate-Change Denial by Proxy

What Caught Our Attention: There’s a lot going on here, so bear with us. (Ba-dum-bum.)

First, there was the paper itself, co-authored by, among others, Michael Mann and Stephan Lewandowsky. Both names may be familiar to Retraction Watch readers. Mann is a prominent climate scientist who has sued the National Review for defamation. A study by Lewandowsky and colleagues of “the role of conspiracist ideation in climate denial” was the subject of several Retraction Watch posts when it was retracted and then republished in a different form. And the conclusion of the new paper, in Bioscience, seemed likely to draw the ire of many who objected to the earlier work: Continue reading Caught Our Notice: Climate change leads to more…neurosurgery for polar bears?

Fracking paper overstated size of methane leak from Marcellus Shale, earning retraction

via Greens-EFA

Last spring, a group of environmental scientists reported an impressive finding: Hydraulic fracturing (better known as fracking) in the Marcellus Shale region of the eastern United States was leaking enough methane to power a city twice the size of Washington, D.C. (We didn’t come up with that comparison, apt though it may be.)

Turns out that wasn’t true. Continue reading Fracking paper overstated size of methane leak from Marcellus Shale, earning retraction

U.S. gov’t scientist says he was banned from climate research at work — so he used a pseudonym

A scientist working for the U.S. government says he was told not to work on climate research during working hours, nor reveal his government affiliation when presenting results. So he published his research under a pseudonym instead.

The researcher explains all this in a recent erratum for one of the papers he published under a different moniker — confirming why he and his co-author used the same pseudonyms to publish another now-withdrawn paper that presented some controversial climate findings. That withdrawal — which we covered in in September (as did the Washington Post) — raised eyebrows after Twitter users began pointing out that the authors — Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez — have similar names to another pair of researchers: Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller

Nikolov’s use of a pseudonym even prompted a misconduct investigation by his employer, the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service.

Here’s the erratum, issued last week for a 2014 paper in SpringerPlus:

Continue reading U.S. gov’t scientist says he was banned from climate research at work — so he used a pseudonym

Authors retract paper linking nuclear power to slow action on climate change

climate-policyDo pro-nuclear energy countries act more slowly to curb the effects of climate change? That’s what a paper published in July in the journal Climate Policy claimed. But the hotly debated study was retracted last week after the authors came to understand that it included serious errors.

An August 22 press release about the original study has been retracted by the University of Sussex, and no longer appears on ScienceDaily. An archived version notes:   Continue reading Authors retract paper linking nuclear power to slow action on climate change

Renewable energy researcher with troubled record loses another paper

renewable-sustainable-energy-reviewsA renewable energy researcher who recycled material in several papers — and has already agreed to withdraw 10 studies — has lost another paper.

In January, we reported that six of 10 papers flagged by an investigation into author Shyi-Min Lu have either been retracted or withdrawn. Now, Lu has lost another paper that was not among the previous ten — again, for reproducing figures from earlier works without seeking permission from original authors. This paper was on a hot topic: gas hydrates, considered to be a potential new energy source to replace oil in the 21st century.

The investigations into Lu’s work took place at the Industrial Technology Research Institute in Hsinchu, Taiwan, where he was formerly based, and the National Taiwan University, in Taipei, Taiwan, which fired Lu from his position at the university’s energy research center.

Here’s the retraction notice in Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, issued last month: Continue reading Renewable energy researcher with troubled record loses another paper

U.S. gov’t researchers withdraw climate paper after using pseudonyms

adv-space-resClimate scientists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture have withdrawn a study they wrote under eyebrow-raising pseudonyms.

The withdrawn paper, about predicting surface temperatures of planets, appeared in Advances in Space Research in August, 2015, and is authored by Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez.

Normally, a withdrawal wouldn’t raise our eyebrows, but climate scientist Gavin Schmidt pointed out on Twitter that the authors’ names are eerily similar to another pair who have published climate papers together: Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller. Yes, that’s correct — Den Volokin and Lark ReLlez are Ned Nikolov and Karl Zeller spelled backwards. Nikolov and Zeller are currently listed as a physical scientist and a meteorologist, respectively, at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The notice doesn’t state the reason for withdrawal, and Pascal Willis, editor-in-chief of Advances in Space Research from the Earth Physics Institute in Paris, France, referred us to the study’s authors for more information. Elsevier, which publishes Advances in Space Research, confirmed that the paper was retracted due to an “authorship issue” — namely, that the authors had used pseudonyms.

We used the contact information listed on the paper for “Den Volokin,” and got this response: Continue reading U.S. gov’t researchers withdraw climate paper after using pseudonyms

You’ve been dupe’d: Results so nice, they’re published twice

obesity surgeryWith retraction notices continuing to pour in, we like to occasionally take the opportunity to cover several at a time to keep up.

We’ve compiled a handful of retractions that were all issued to papers that were published twice by at least one of the same authors — known as duplication. (Sometimes, this can be the publisher’s fault, although that doesn’t appear to be the case in any of the following examples.)

So here are five recently retracted papers that were pulled because of duplication: Continue reading You’ve been dupe’d: Results so nice, they’re published twice

Environmental group alleges scientific fraud in disputed methane studies

icn-logoNote: We are reprinting below an article originally published at InsideClimate News.

The inspector general of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has been asked to examine whether a significant recent study of greenhouse gas emissions from oil and gas fields was technically flawed—and whether researchers brushed aside concerns that methane pollution was being understated.

The emission of methane, a much more potent greenhouse gas in the short term than carbon dioxide, has proven difficult to measure. The latest complaint is a volley in a long-running skirmish among academics, advocacy groups and regulators over how tightly methane should be regulated.

On Wednesday, a North Carolina environmental advocacy group, NC Warn, alleged that this dispute has risen to the level of fraud. Continue reading Environmental group alleges scientific fraud in disputed methane studies